The Great Wall of China dying a slow death

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The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China

The ‘longest’ known man made wonder of the world, the great wall of China, is found to be dilapidated as 30% of it has ‘disappeared’, of either natural conditions, or reckless human activities. The massive construction done during the regime of the Ming dynasty, was never a single structure though, but units of independent structures built along several thousands of kilometers in sessions from Shanhaiguan on the east coast to Jiayuguan in the windswept sands on the edge of the Gobi desert. After the ‘proud’ natives started stealing bricks for construction of houses and domestic property from the world heritage monument, the monument is now evidently dying a slow death.

According to a report on Sunday, based on a survey conducted by the ‘Great Wall of China Society’, one third of the wall has been damaged due to rains that erode parts of the wall, growth of grass and trees in the cracks of the wall. Human destruction and illegal trade has also increased the risk of collapse of the wall, says the report.

There has been a series of heritage inscriptions on sale in the villages nearby, the commodity being bricks inscribed with Chinese characters, pilfered from the wall. The building blocks of the Great Wall of China are in high demand among the tourist community.

“Poor villagers in Lulong county in the northern province of Hebei used to knock thick grey bricks from a section of wall in their village to build homes, and slabs engraved with Chinese characters were sold for 30 yuan ($4.80) each by local residents”, the report said. This is actually an offense under the law, and a fine of up to 5,000 yuan can be levied.  An increasing number of tourists and inadequate maintenance of the monument have also led to the destruction of the world’s wonder.

Meanwhile, some local governments are carrying out proper maintenance activities on the sections of Great Wall that fell under their premises, to attract tourist attention and thus to make economic profit. “Even though some of the walls are built of bricks and stones, they cannot withstand the perennial exposure to wind and rain. Many towers are becoming increasingly shaky and may collapse in a single rain storm in summer”, says Dong Yaohui, Chairman of Great Wall of China Society.

“But there is no specific organisation to enforce the rules. Damage can only be reported to higher authorities and it is hard to solve when it has happened on the border of two provinces. The explorations of undeveloped parts of the Great Wall, an increasingly popular leisure activity in recent years, had brought those sections more tourists than they could bear, damaging them severely,” says the report.

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